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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  August 28, 2009 10:00am-1:00pm EDT

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did, given the fact that we now know there were no weapons of mass destruction, what george tenet was still in office? i noticed the six guys sitting behind the historian all turned uncomfortable. turns out to these were the analysts that road to the national intelligence estimate and they had been fired from their job and were now working on the history staff. host: thank you for your time this morning. now we go to the changing of the guard at the kennedy library. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008] .
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. .
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>> folks in boston continue to pay their respects to edward kennedy lying in repose. the associated press reports that george h. w. bush will not be attending senator kennedy's funeral. a spokesman says he and his wife decided not to attend after learning that their son would
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attend. senator kennedy paused body will lie in repose until 3:00 p.m. we want to let you know about our coverage of the funeral events. coverage continues of the offense at the kennedy library on c-span2 as as well as online ads a memorial service this evening and vice president biden will speak at that. the funeral service is scheduled tomorrow for 10:30 eastern. the body will be flown to washington following a brief ceremony at the steps at the u.s. capitol, burial at arlington national cemetery at 5:30 p.m. eastern. all of those of dense our live at c-span. an interview with a group of reporters from the "boston globe," who wrote the book about the rise and fall of ted kennedy.
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that is at 8:00 a.m. on saturday on c-span2. just a reminder about some of our "washington journal" program next week. we are broadcasting live from virginia hospital center in arlington. we will examine the health care system from the perspective of doctors. they will provide context to the health-care debate. that is next monday through wednesday on "washington journal." we will take you down to a health care town hall meeting with donna edwards of maryland. she is a member of the congressional progressive caucus, many of whom said they will not vote for a health-care bill without a public option. this took place in germantown. it is about 1.5 hours.
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[applause] >> excellent. first of all, an introduction because i know some of you but i don't know all of you. i am donna edwards. i represent maryland's fourth congressional district. it is good to welcome you all here this evening and to see such a special crowd of people who are interested in health care reform. i am glad to be here with you this evening. i am glad that you chose to spend your evenings here as well. some of you know i have been having conversations about health care reform for a couple of years. those have been very am. conversations and -- those have been very invigorated conversations.
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we have had an opportunity to see on television or the newspapers that there is an engaging conversation going on across the country. what i want to share with you is we are going to have a chance to talk about the substance. we will have a chance to have you asked some questions, and i will do my best to be responsive to them. the one thing i will ask of you, and i know you can't do it because many of your from the fourth congressional district. i will be asking you to be as respectful to me as i will speak to you. i will ask you to be respectful of your peers and neighbors because it is what i expect. and the end of this we will demonstrate we can have a conversation about something which many of us feel passionately, and that moves so
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many of us. it is the reason this community center is filled almost to capacity. i am looking forward to the evening and sharing this time with you. i hope that you will do the same i know we have a couple of elected officials who are here with us. i see council members from montgomery county who are both here this evening. [applause] representing senator ben cardin's of this is our good friend ken. good to see it. if there is anybody else i left out, consider yourselves welcomed. i want to share with you that i
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know each of us experience is the health care system in many different kinds of ways. part of the reason we feel so strongly about health-care has to do with each of us, our own frame of reference. whether it is the experience we have had as a patient, a provider, a family member, each of us experience is the health- care system in a way. it helps us frame the way we think about what we need to do to make change and where the system works and where it fails. you do know that every day there are 14,000 people who lose their health care insurance. of the course of the time congress has been in recess -- over the course of the time congress has been in recess,
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518,000 more people will have lost health-insurance. we know the current system we have is not working for millions of people. i want to tell you how i see the health care system because it is important for you to understand my frame of reference. i grew up in a military family. my father was in the air force, so we had the experience of six children having terrific health care service. we went to the doctors at whichever facility my father happened to be stationed at. i left my appendix at an air force base in ohio. my tonsils were there, my appendix i actually left in spain. we got our medications and were
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treated wonderfully in that system. that is totally government- provided. as i got older i had to get private insurance. i worked for an employer when i got out of college and had insurance. it was not great and i had a bad salary as a lot of young people have, so when i received my health benefits at one point i thought maybe i won't even keep my health insurance because it costs me a lot but i don't ever get sick. then i went through a time where i said i wanted health insurance but i had changed employers and my new employer did not provide health insurance, so i could buy a plan for my son so he could have it and i did not buy it for myself.
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i went like this, i crossed my fingers and i said i hope i don't get sick. guess what? i got really sick. i was in the grocery store and i passed out. i had been sick for some time but did not want to go to the doctor and i passed out. the ambulance took me to the emergency room at prince george's hospital and gave me great care and it cost me a bundle. after that time i had some time to try to pay it back. it was a struggle. a couple of days ago i was cleaning out my house and found a folder. it had bills from all the collection agencies and the foreclosure notice from my home i almost lost. just two days ago a brought
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chills back to me all over again, the pain of the experience of not having health care. fortunately i was able to pay it back and move forward, but i understand what it means to not have health insurance also. then i went to work for an employer with great health insurance. they paid the premium, they paid the deductible. my health insurance plan, i got my laser eye surgery done and did not have to pay a dime. it taught me what it would be like to have premium health care coverage, too. we are part of the federal benefits structure, so we get a choice of multiple plans for health insurance. that is really great. we have these plans lined up
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against each other and you get to make a choice. i like having the choice. part of the reason we're having this conversation about health care reform is because we want to talk about the details of how we can cover millions of americans without health care, how we can lower costs for those who do, how we can create competition where there is very little, and how we can provide accountability and transparency so that we can make the entire system work for people. i happen to believe that we have a great opportunity to do that with this president, who has set out the goal of those things i just outlined. and a congress that said our job
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is to come up with the legislation that will achieve those goals so that we can get a bill ready for the president to sign that has a chance of performing in a comprehensive way this health care system. i believe we can get there and i don't think any of this is easy, because if it was easy, it would have been done. our job is to get the hard work done so that we can leave a legacy of a health care system that works for them. i know recently we commemorated the 44th anniversary of medicare. how many of you receive medicare? how many of you want to give it up? i knew that. medicare is one of those systems
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where when we began the debate about medicare there were a lot of people who said the same things being repeated in this debate. right now there are maybe a few people who would say let's get rid of medicare. but it is a system we have learned a lot about over 44 years. part of what we want to do in reform is to make sure we create a system where we wake up 44 years from now and says that this is a system that was created and we know there were a lot of challenges in terms of moving it forward, but it actually works. that is what we are challenged to understand now. in the house of representatives
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we have multiple bills. there are a lot of similarities but there are some differences. one of the things that is important that we do is eliminate exclusions for pre- existing conditions. how many of you have ever been rejected for a pre-existing condition? [applause] if you have not been identified with a pre-existing condition now, it just live long enough, he will have one. the other thing we do is we say sometimes there are limits on the amount you can recover from your health care. after that limit you are done. you have to pay out of pocket the costs for your care. for a lot of families that is unaffordable. we say that is wrong. people should not have this
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limitations. they should be able to get affordable health care paid in the way they need it. i see students here from johns hopkins university. good to see you this evening. [applause] i want more of these medical students making a decision about going into primary care. [applause] many of us in congress know that in order to sustain a primary practice in this economic environment, that we need to give you help. we need to incentivize do and make sure you get loan forgiveness. we want to make sure we are educating more nurses and physician's assistants and
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health-care providers who are providing daycare in places that people need. -- providing that kind of care. i need to see these physicians providing care for americans in a way that they afford it and allows you to sustain yourselves and your families. there are many other items through this healthcare plan. let's go to the thing that has drawn so much contention. some of those things are truth and some are fiction. part of what we are doing is we will separate the truth from fiction. [applause]
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let's deal with one of them. i always like to use examples from my life because i want you to know their error experiences that informs thinking about health care. -- there are experiences that informs thinking about health care. my father was living with kidney disease and at the end of his life he began conversations with us as a family and with his positions. we began to talk about what he wanted at the end of his life. as his daughter, and i know my mother and sisters feel the same way that it was important for us to have that conversation as a family. it was important for the physicians to be involved as well. by the time he reached the end
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of his life all of us were on the same page about what he wanted at the end of his life. i think it is a good thing that is part of what we enable it to happen, those kinds of respectful conversations at the end of life. [applause] let's talk about some other fiction stuff. medicare is going to get better. medicare is great. we will create some savings in medicare program where we take them and make investments into medicare to strengthen benefits so that it does work for all of the participants who like medicare.
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before coming here as fast seniors about medicare. they said just leave my medicare alone and i said that is exactly what we will do. that is another myth we went to clean up. let's take another one of them. we have created what is described as a marketplace for insurance. remember i talked about small businesses that are struggling to pay health care and some that are not able to pay aid at all. and individuals who are not able to get health care on their own. we'll create what has been described as a hell exchange. think about going to the kirsch restore and you -- described as health exchange.
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we have three different health care plans. this lady in the red shirt is the public insurance option. [applause] those people who are able to get into lee in a change, as you work for a small employer, you can look kenneth and can say there is -- you can look at this and say here is this plan and the public health insurance option. and no one gets to choose among these folks in the exchange except you. you can make a decision you want anything on this shelf, and the
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public option is one of those choices. [applause] that's what we are creating in this plan, choices. right now if you look for a large employer there are some large employers where the employee gets to choose from a range of options negotiated by the employers, but for most of us, and when i work for a smaller employer i only had the one choice. if you are among the limited number of people who are able to be part of this exchange, you will get multiple choices. what does that do? think about that market place. when you have multiple choices
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on the shelf and each one of them looking at you, then you will say i want to compete for you. we had a marketplace of 40 million votes at their that the if people want to compete for. they want their business. what does that competition do? competition drives costs. it will drive costs down word. [applause] and not just for the people who are part of the exchange but for all the rest of us as well. that is why i like the idea of including a public health insurance often as one of the choices -- [applause]
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i get the idea that there are a number of supporters of the public health insurance option, but this is important. if you are provided health- insurance by your employer there is nothing in this legislation that says drop those people and make them go into the exchange. wait, wait, wait a second. one of our rules is that we are going to be respectful in this room. i mean that. [applause] there will be a time for questions and answers, but we have committed to each other as
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members of a community that he will be respectful. what i was saying is among those options, if you have health insurance you will be able to keep your health insurance. if you want to make a choice that is a private insurance plan, you will be able to make that choice. and there would be what are called affordability credits provided to the employee is 80 participants in the exchange based on where you fall in the probably range -- based on where you fall in the poverty range. he will get a credit that allows you to make a contribution to meet the costs of your health care coverage.
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your employers, particularly for smaller employers, will also receive tax credits for their participation, because we want to make sure a small employers are not bearing the brunt of paying for their health-care coverage, even though we know the small employer and the worker needs to be able to make a contribution. i know there have been a lot of questions about how do we pay for this? the estimates are that health care reform is about a trillion -- is about $1.3 trillion. we know that we will derive about $500 billion in savings. how do you make of the rest? one of the ways is, because the president is committed to making sure this bill is revenue-
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neutral. one of the ways we tried to do that is to make sure that you are making a contribution as an employee to your own premium costs, and i will ask this question before we get to that, but how many of you have an adjusted gross income over $500,000? you are lucky. i know you work hard for that. for any amount over $500,000, and we are floating another provision on the house side that would move that threshold of two $1 million, then you would make a contribution of 1.2% of the amount over $500,000.
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this would fall proportionately on to christensen of the income earners in the country. that is one of the ways we add to the contribution. remember how i described how i had to go to prince george's hospital with uncompensated care. i want to thank you bed because of the contribution you already made for emergency services for people like me, you paid the cost of my going to the emergency room. how would rather you not do that. because those costs for everybody using emergency care for their primary care, the
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costs are absorbed by the 85% of us who have health insurance. it would have been better for me to pay the costs of $150 to a health-care provider to get $20 worth of medication so that i did not have to use the emergency room as a primary health care provider. i would like no one else to have that experience. [applause] there are many more things i could cover right now but i know that my staff are giving me a signal of 1 minute, so i had exhausted more than that. what i would like to do is have the opportunity to take your questions. the way we will handle this is that these microphones are here.
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you can line up behind the microphones to ask a question. out of respect for everyone, it would be great if you use your one minute for a question. he will just get one minute to do it because a lot of people came from those seats into a line. we will try to take as many of them as possible, but try to be prospective of your peers. you were at the microphone first. please give me your name and where you are from. >> my name is michael and i live in gaithersburg. thank you for coming here. this shows me you are a stand up person. i have a question. i believe and limited government, and the former
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comptroller general said our national debt is unsustainable, between social security and medicare and everything else. between the post office is the $7 billion in debts. i am sure you remember horror stories of walter reed hospital. social security, we have this huge debts, so we are going to embark upon more expensive program where we will inshore 40 million people, how could we sustain an even bigger debt if we cannot pay the current one we have? how are things going to be
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different? >> that is an important question. in terms of the costs we are enduring now, the system we have now is unsustainable. let me just finish. you had a chance to ask your question, so i will have a chance to respond. the system we have now is unsustainable. the question is over the next decade do we run the risk of millions more people losing their health care not because their employers don't want to provide it but because they cannot afford it. it is having a deep impact on our economic competitiveness.
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it is imperative for us to do health care reform right now. [applause] let me finish this up. i also think with the existing health-care system, the point that making reforms to medicare and medicaid and it bit better -- and wood waste, fraud, you also have it in the private insurance system as well. [applause] one element of the legislation is to put $100 million towards the work needed to clean up the
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waste and fraud. that is a good expenditure for tax payer money. we will alternate microphones. >> i am peter james from germantown. my father died two weeks ago from medicare. it was not so much anything other than the lack of money. i can see unintended consequences of poor people attain -- taking lower options. we had a loss of money. health care should be something people should be able to get a job and i'm, but when bankers stole $20 trillion and you are not focusing on putting them in jail, you could pay for a program by doing that. because we are sinking deeper
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and borrowing money is from the bankers to put band-aids on healthcare, pretty soon they will come down on us and everyone will have to take a public option. if co-ops are the final option, could you fight for small ones as opposed to these big ones? >> let me respond to that. i am sorry to hear about your father. in this health care system one of the things that happens in medicare that we try to shore up is this idea that you go in for one treatment and then you come out and have to go back for another treatment because there is not a continuum of care and service. i think it is important in
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medicare to look at the way in which our payment system is adjusted so we insure that the whole patient is being treated for the entire complex city -- for the entire complex city -- in tyre complexity. they have had this kind of experiences that impact the kind of care that they received. both in the private insurance market and in medicare and the health insurance exchange, we are looking at things like quality of care where we figure out how we will reward quality and reward efficiency, still looking at those payments structures for medicare will be important over the long haul in
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terms of figuring out how the payment structures work for a public option. thank you again for your question. we have a question right here. >> i am from baltimore. >> i think that microphone is not on. it is not on. just go to the other microphone. i am from baltimore. he has exposed obama pots -- expose obama's health care as a nazi policy.
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what is behind this health care policy is economic collapse. >> thank you very much. let's go to the other microphone. >> [inaudible] >> it is difficult to hear. it is difficult to hear. >> i just want to know how the government can keep spending -- when i buy a house we get a mortgage and then maybe we will save up money to buy another house, but we cannot keep buying stuff unless we earn it. the government can just write things and what is the laws that makes it so you guys can say we
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will just spend trillions of dollars we don't have? how does that work dense [applause] -- how does that work? [applause] >> i appreciate your concern. it is exactly the concern the president expressed. it is one i share and many members of congress share as well. it is why when you go through details of what the congressional budget office has said is $1.3 trillion over 10 years, that we are certain we will be paying for this so that we don't put costs on to future regeneration is indeed create a system where each of us is making a contribution to our own health care. i think what has been
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demonstrated in the legislation is a great attention to exactly the concerns you raised, that we don't want future generations. in the costs of any of these systems. in particular, it has been a very important that although the congressional budget office has not attached a value to prevention, each of us and those in our own way when you make investments in prevention, that over time that is a saving in the fifth of. while the trillion -- while the $1.3 trillion has a lot of savings built in that paid for this system, what is not accounted in this at all is any costs add any value attached.
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i think we have a question and this microphone. >> i am a physician for 42 years. i have practiced under every type of health care system we have in this country. i have been a patient at least 11 times in terms of surgery's, so i understand where this is coming from. the insurance carriers have sought trillions of dollars out of the health-care system. [applause] over the last 20 years. it seems to me the single payer system should never have been taken off the table. [applause] part of the reason it was is because everybody assumes it is
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a government program. why don't we set up a private company that is a highly- regulated monopoly and covers 230 million people, removing private insurance companies and putting more into it. why can't we have a single payer system that is not government- run. >> in some ways you are preaching to the choir. those of you who know me know that i have been a supporter of a single payer health care system. as you describe, we are not at a place where we are having a conversation about a single payer health care system. i think that when we did, many
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of us were looking at other ways that we could embrace this idea that the president has come at that we have a system that has private insurers as part of our system, where we have examples of the government facilitating healthcare, where there is in the armed forces or medicare -- whether it is in the armed forces or medicare. and inshore the 47 million people who don't have insurance. that we can let private insurers to meet the cost of health care because they want to and not because they are being priced out of the system. as a result, many of us began working on the public health insurance option as one mechanism in a marketplace of
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competitors who are competing to get those 40 million people signed up, whether it is public insurance or one of these insurance companies in the marketplace. right now we don't have a system that is competitive at all. in maryland usually there are one or two insurance companies that dominate the market. that is true in this state as well. if you have a market that has more insurance providers able to participate, i think that is something, while is not a single payer system, it embraces the idea that we provide affordability by offering a
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health insurance option as a choice. we're going to have to go right away because i am long winded. >> i have two sons with cerebral palsy. i am also a small-business owner, and we have had a number of different insurance companies. we currently provide employees choices. we pay 100% of the costs of a single family coverage. [applause] under the bill, if we pay less than 8% of the total we pay a penalty. right now we pay less than that. the bill incentivizes us to hold down salary increases to meet the 8% requirement, which is a
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perverse incentive. if i was to retire, at my wife and i -- the bill requires we pay premiums for a plan that provides maternity coverage even though we are never going to use it at this point in our lives. if you were to offer different plans, perhaps a high catastrophic plan you can control the costs. finally, i am opposed to the single payer plan. >> if you have health insurance now, as long as it meets the
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standard set of benefits you can continue to provide that health insurance. there are -- if you look at the legislation, if you currently provide health insurance and meet the standard set of benefits, i believe there are many employees who provide health insurance who already meet that standard set of benefits that you will be just fine. i would be happy after this before on if my staff and i could show you the provisions in the bill where that would apply, because i would be happy to do that. as much as i am supportive of a single payer system, i understand the dynamics and i don't think this is the first-
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ever towards anything. this is what we should do right now that encourages and reforms in the health-care industry, and provides choices for americans. especially those who work for small employers. thank goodness your employees have you that you are meeting 100% of their costs. there are many employers who cannot afford to do that even though they want to be able to do that. i don't think this is a first step towards single payer. it is a step we can make so we need goals in front of us of lowering costs and providing accountability. the question at this microphone. >> my name is scott. i have the experience of dealing with national health care in
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canada. i was in the canadian football league in 1990. i experienced a national health care and i feel like mine is valuable to share. during training camp i was hit in the back and had to go to the hospital. they found out i was missing a kidney from birth, so the federal health care system would not allow me back on the field playing football until i signed a waiver that said if you want to play football you will be responsible to cover any kidney- related injury. then i got in one game and they released me. i paid into the health-care system for disability. they sent me home with $180. national healthcare, a public option will be a slippery slope
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to where government can tell you what job you can have and which you cannot. [applause] >> i appreciate you sharing your experience with this system but the fact of the matter is, i want to be clear about this. we are not nationalizing the health care system. while it is productive to have those conversations, that is not what we are doing. i think it would be much more productive for us to talk about what we are doing as opposed to what we are assuming we are doing or what might happen down the line. if we were creating a national health-care system we would not create a structure that embraces the private insurance market. we have created a structure that is very uniquely american, especially given the way we have started out where we created a
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public option that competes alongside private insurers. if you were eligible and don't want to choose the public auction, you don't have to. -- if you don't want to choose to chooseoption, -- choose, -- option. >> thank you for coming tonight. i wanted to talk about the employer-based health care. we have seen having employers pay for health care does not work. we have had a lot of people lose their jobs and lose health care. we have also seen small businesses have to cut back, especially on healthcare. i think we need this reform and need all americans to have access to health care. the question is how can we get past this debate and move this
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process forward? we need all americans to have health coverage. [applause] >> thank you. [applause] >> i share your sentiments. the fact is we are going to get past this debate. it is important we do that. it is important for us to engage in all the comments and experiences that people have had with the current system so that we can move forward. i am looking forward to september 8 to when congress gets back into session, where we have had the experience like this in the threat of this district, where what we heard from you informs how we go forward. -- like in this district.
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i very strongly support the fact that president obama set a goal. he laid that out and the congress' job is to come up with details that get us from here to there. we are a long way down the line. we will reconcile three bills in the house so that we have one bill that each of us as members of congress considering what we have heard, thinking about what this will mean for the country, will have an opportunity to vote on that. i cannot tell you how much i am looking forward to that vote and the hard work of getting us here to there. i share your concern. [applause] >> i am a registered nurse at the ico in an area hospital.
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mine is not a question but a comment. we have a situation in the er with a lot of people not covered and they are flooding the er for minor illnesses. they are flooding the hospitals and then the hospital has a code red. when that happens we cannot accept anybody. they are coming in there for minor cuts or cough, so would everybody having insurance, then we would be able to see people who needed immediately. [applause] if you think that you are covered today and you do not care about anybody else out there that does not have insurance, think again because you do not have insurance.
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years ago i was in a situation where someone had an accident in the rehab hospital. the insurance refuse to pay for the recap until the occupational therapy had progress. they wanted to see progress before the person could be covered. [applause] >> thank you for your comments. the untold story of the health- care system is that insurance companies, for those of us with insurance, insurance companies are making those choices for you every day. [applause] we at least want to create some opportunities in this system for you to be able to make health care choices on your own.
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>> i live in germantown. i am recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. i was diagnosed three months later because the private health insurance company that is my only option did not want to pay for an mri, despite the fact that i and the demographic for it and in spite of the fact that my father has ms, which multiplies my chance by 20. now i am wondering about -- i am about to consult a neurologist to find out if i can afford to monitor my disease because the out-of-pocket costs for an mri is so high. how can anybody say that public health insurance would ration
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care when private insurance has done that to me and is continuing to do that to me? [applause] >> i know that many of you have questions and comments and you are prepared to share your stories and those of your family members. again, it is so important to what we are doing. there are no other words to say other than your own about why is that we need not just tinkering change, not just change around the fringes, but we need comprehensive reform of our health care system because i want it to work for all of us.
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the president wants it to work for all of us. we don't want to jeopardize the good health insurance many of you receive today. we want to make sure you are able to keep your medicare and make sure its is sustainable and not for when we don't need it, but for when we do. thank you again. [applause] . . >> i actually originally worked in vermont in a couple of different places and use of the canadians come over the border for health and i thought, i
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never want to do that. 18 years later, i have a private practice where i do not take insurance. i say, this is not about the koñmoney, but because i feel lie they tell me how to practice. for those who are concerned about the financial think, i çthink the communication is,>iw do we help people know? two examples would be back pain, which is the number-oneç reason that people see their family practitioner. if you add it up, there is a possibility of forecasting maybe $100 billion per year, that would be theç highest in taking the increases and adding it up. in our present system, we do not know the cause of back pain and 80% of the time. that is a problem with our system. the other problem is that we have come up with a way to look at back pain, but i have to relate that to the layperson because you cannot change the system. how can you get people to
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actually hear each other? >> again, thanks for your comments and also your experience as a physical therapist. when we think about health care, so often we go down the road and we're talking about doctors and nurses and hospitals and doctors' offices and there is a range of health care providers in this system who provide quality health care that needs to be affordable and accessible. one of the interesting things that we try to do in the legislation is begin to identify best practices. for example, physicians and other health-care providers can actually share with each other best practices and treatment protocols to try to improve the delivery of health care. i think the crux of what we are all interested in -- and i do not want to cast any aspersions about why people support one thing versus another thing because i bet that if i went
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around this room, there is not a one of us that does notgmj want anyone to receive quality, affordable health care. half the question is not about that. it is about the best way to get there. that is where we have some porsche and pulled and tugged in this debate. that is a healthy thing to happen. we want to try to get at best practices, whether they are in your practice of physical therapy, or in primary care or specialty care. looking at what is a patient's medical provision of services, so there is a coordination of care if you are seeing a set of practitioners for multiple kinds of conditions. looking at family practice, which there's almost no family practice that goes on any more, but looking at family practice because we can examine things like multiple sclerosis within
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a family and if we know the history -- the family practice this and knows that history and is not directed by an insurance company, or even buy a a government bean counter, but your experience of health care is actually being guided by the best practices in the field and buy your medical provider. and when it is all said and done and the summer is finished out in the fall and the president has signed a comprehensive health care into law, that is not the end. it really is the beginning. we're going to learn a lot, just as we learned a lot about medicare over 44 years. we're going to learn a lot more about health care and therefore be many pushes and pulls and tweaks over the course of years. not just because we want to be bedoobie -- we want to be efficient doobies, but because
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we want to get it right for you. [applause] >> i am from maryland. very simple question, if the federal unfunded health-care does pass, would you oughopt ouf the congressional plan and on the public-sector one? [applause] >> that is always a question. i have heard this question a lot about whether members of congress will opt out of our health care plan. members of congress are part of the federal health-care program. i think is actually important that we treat employers who currently provide health care in a way that we do not -- that we are not pushing people over on the exchange's system. the exchange has been limited for a reason. it is limited to small
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employers. let me just finish. i am not going to talk anymore unless i can do it without the hissene. -- the hissing. the federal employer is treated like other employers. when i have health care provided by privateç premium service toy paid a lot less for my health care than i do currently. i think if there was an amendment to enable federal employees to opt in to the exchange, i personally do not have a problem with that. i think that the exchange really is going to be the kind of marketplace that we have described where you will have multiple private insurers and public -- the public plan to choose from.
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ideally, we want to make sure that employers who currently provide health care coverage continue to provide health care coverage. i think that those of you are afraid of the language of a government takeover of health care -- actually, the last thing that you would want is for private employers to say we are not providing health care insurance anymore. actually, that suggestion is counterintuitive to the golan of trying to ensure that we have both the marketplace -- to the goal of trying to ensure that we &'óhave bought a marketplace ana public plan. [applause] --ç that we have both a marketplace and a public plan. [applause] >> thank you for hosting this tonight. everything you have said sounds great in theory. my question is as i look at the three bills and compare those and analyze what is there, they
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seem to be weak in substance and lack a lot of details. they appear to give room for government control as the system continues. [cheers and applause] my question is, everything that you have said tonight sounds wonderful, as i said, in theory. ronald reagan said that government is not the solution, government is the problem. [booing and hissing] >> we are not want to have that, please. can we let him finish his question? >> my question is, as much as i would like to trust my government elected officials, i do not. [cheers and applause] #yqñmike question to you, why sd i trust you? and why should i trust the government elected officials? and what can you do to restore our trust in government? [applause]
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>> first, let me just sayqg on e -- i mean, we actually share competing views about the role of government. i think that is true in this room during there are some people who share the view -- there are some in this room who probably share the view, no government, no way, no nothing. but there are others of us that share the view that government has a role and responsibility in our lives and it is up to us through our elected officials to help find what the parameters of that responsibility are. i am of the latter. 0d:ñthen, in terms of how you tt me, if you are speaking about me, donna at worstsedwards, repg the fourth congressional district, i understand that i have to learn your trust as a member of congress, just as i had to a year-and-a-half ago when i was elected a member of
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congress. that is the relationship that we elected officials. the same is true with the relationship that you have and that we all have with our elected officials. you get to decide on the end of the day -- at the end of the day about whether i have met the mark or not and i am happy to engage in that over the course of the remainder of my term to make sure that i am earning your trust. part of the way that we do that is we are able to gather like this in a roomful of people who come from so many different places to try to express our viewpoint on the health care system and a range of other issues that confront us. that is part of the trust gaining mechanism as well. i do not just want to hear from
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people who agree with me. at the end of the conversation, we may have to agree to disagree, but on something as important as health care is at least as important for us to engage. >> i am fromç maryland. i also am a public health analyst. i agree with you 100% on primary care. it is so important. we have way too many specialists in this country and we have to revamp medical education and produce more primary care -- primary care providers. i'm originally from north carolina. we have a great public health system and a great university system. rivate college. i thought it was worth a little extra money and there is no reason because we had a public college that it worked out -- wiped out all of the private colleges. there's no reason that we cannot have a public plan and private insurance companies.
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[applause] finally, what are we keeping medicaid, which is on the whole a rotten system? why not put anybody that is on medicaid into the health insurance exchange with some money so they can choose one of those programs just like the working americans? [applause] >> thanks for your other comments. it is an interesting statement about medicaid. we are not revamping the health care reform, although, we do change some of the eligibility requirements. ñs2nc e set of other work that is not fully part of this process, even though some of the same -- savings that are actually gained are the same out of the medicaid:[ system. there will be a small portion, i think, about 133% of the medicaid level will be eligible
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to make a choice within the health insurance exchange. that is a part of the adult population that is medicaid- eligible that will be able to choose in the exchange. i know you have been waiting for a long time. >> i am a physician assistant practicing cardiac surgery for about 23 years. i read most of the bill. it is a very unpleasant thing to read. my question is, medicare has been reached -- reducing reimbursement for years, progressively over 10 years. now we have other events in which they do not cover sterile wound infections after surgery how are you going to cover all of these people when you're going to cut medicare by $500 billion, which is the projection? step two, the president wants to stop the medicare advantage
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program. medicare has hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded liability which requires a medicare recipient to kary keiko para to make their ends meet and he wants to5zñ abolish that -- to carry a co payer to make ends meet and he wants to abolish that. how're you going to do that without reimbursing? there will be further cuts in medicare. how are you going to do that? >> first, let me say that i think it is important we speak to seniors, who are the beneficiaries of medicare. we are not reducing medicare benefits. [applause] in fact, we actually -- although there is $500 billion in savings identified in medicare from the things that i described earlier, $340 billion of that is
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actually put back into the medicare system. >> where is the savings coming from? >> we could probably have an argument about this, but i'm not going to do that with you. you ask your question and i'm going to tell you that in very plain in -- plain language so that everyone gets it and understands it, we are not reducing your medicare benefits. we are not reducing medicare benefits. [applause] >> i'm from germantown. just so that the public gets an idea, we are not all on welfare. we're not all at home, never had a job. i have worked hard my whole life. my husband, parents, my grandparents have worked hard.
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i have only had one surgery in my life and it was three weeks after i got laid off. i lost my insurance that day. i have not paid premiums for years -- i paid premiums for years and never had to use it. i paid cobra for three months and the next thing i know, my insurance company back 830 days all of the procedures i had a a -- my insurance company backdates. all the procedures i had during that 30 days are not covered. now i do not have a job. i'm out of surgery, disability, and no coverage. it basically ruined my family financially. in 2009 health care, job, all of those things. now, no health care, no 41 k, no stocks, no bonds. we are regular people just like everybody else. i'm not looking for anyone to give me anything.
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i am looking for an option. [cheers and applause] how are you going to help us convicts -- convince the blue dogs and conservatives and everybody else about this? >> you know, thank you again. [applause] i just want to say to you, this is exactly the reason that i -- there's not a single day that goes by, not an hour that goes by that i am not thinking about health care and it is precisely for people like you who, in this system of quality for many of us is not equality for so many others. it is just not fair. i am as committed to working with our president, working with our leadership.
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we are going to get from here to there. part of this is part of the process, but come september, it is getting down to the groundwork -- grunt work that build cost, provides competition and build accountability and transparency. and i believe that a robot -- a robust public plan as part of the marketplace -- [applause] is part of the way that we get from here to there. thank you again for sharing your experience with us. again, no one should have to work and work and pay premium after premium, and even the expense of cobra, which is sometimes even more than your mortgage payment and then come up with nothing. we're going to fix this system for you and for everybody else in this room and outside of this room who is in exactly the same
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circumstance. thank you again. [applause] ñw!>> thank you for giving us ts opportunity. i am from germantown. my concerns are twofold. i want to supportf: the public plan, but i have concerns about transparency and inequities because usually, when there are a lot of choices, some of us have to shop at the lower end of the spectrum while others are able to shop at the higher end. i would like to see some kind of provision to prevent these kind of inequities in the system. number two, we seem to have excluded universal health care from the debate. i think if we identified the main problem of health care as being cost, then we have to look at the fact that even the system
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being proposed right now, there are still large segment of the american population that will be excluded. we do not ever want to think about it, but we have to think about everything that falls on both sides of the debate. if we exclude immigrants that are in this country and we do not provide them health care, or the opportunity to purchase health care, i think we are missing the mark a and reducing health-care costs. >> you raise a couple of questions that i want to get to. one of the reasons that there is a standard set of benefits that are provided under the legislation is to get to your question about transparency. i know is really complicated and i know in my own plan when you look at several different plans stacked up against each other and it is like apples and oranges reading between them, the idea is toç provide a standard set of benefits so that you know at the outset what
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would be included in the plan. then if you wanted to buy up into a premium or premium plus plan, you would be able to do that. but that benefits -- standard benefits package would insure you are the kinds of things that you would expect to be covered in preventive care and all of that. it would be covered under your health insurance plan, which ever one you choose. -- which ever one you choose. isi signed when i was coming in at that had to do with undocumented immigrant -- i saw a sign when i was coming in but i do with undocumented immigrants and whether or not there should be coverage for them. we could have a whole discussion about whether we should do that, but the fact of the matter is -- and let's talk about facts -- of this legislation does not cover people who are in this country illegally and without documents. i know there has been a lot
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written and said about that, but it just does not. we can have a completely different conversation and debate about whether we should gorda and when there are other things that we should do, but for the purposes of describing what is in the legislation, let's be clear about what is in there. it does not. overall, the goal for universal coverage could be met with a single payer plan. again, that is not where we are. this plan is projected to cover 97% of the american public, probably about 3% are people who for whatever reason of doupop od are still seeking emergency care. that is a far cry from 70%. it gets us toward universal
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coverage. i am taking these two questions right here, these two questions that are at the microphone right now. i apologize to the others of you. there are question and answer you are welcome to write your questions on their and our staff will endeavor to get back to you on those questions. if we couldç take the microphoe here and then this microphone here. >> i am a medical student at johns hopkins university in baltimore. first, i would like to say that i am fully supportive of the current reform efforts, including a strong public plan. i applaud you for fighting the good fight so far. one of the problems i see, though, is that there's a lot of disillusionment and ambivalence on the part of physicians and
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medical professionals towards the current reform efforts. #cé-né boare some sort of tort reform because i think a lot of physicians currently, they are really struggling -- [applause] ñ the fear of lawsuits. even though it is not always warranted, they are still scared. i think a good way of solving that would be health care courts, not necessarily caps because i think they are draconian and the harm people who are wrongfully harmed. but people could be adequately compensated, doctors are practicing the standard care do not have to fear lawsuits. [applause] >> again, and another really important comment. this comment and question have come up in a couple of the town hall meetings that i have done.
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it has sparked some additional consideration and debate. what i will mention to people -- and i think is really important -- whenever we have a conversation about malpractice and insurance, literally, there are a handful of doctors who are creating all of the now practice across the country and they move from one jurisdiction to the next door is ditching, never found out, you know, creating a warm all over the country. -- one jurisdiction to the next jurisdiction. i think we need to allow for sharing information from state to state about the doctors so they are not actually in the practice. this has been an idea that has been around forever. we haveç such advances in technology, surely we can do this. states should be able to share information about doctors so they are not allowed to go a around creating that harm. and it is actually driving up the cost and making it difficult to practice for a lot of our practicing physicians in some of
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our most of the " kinds of practices. i appreciate your sharing data. and now we just have time for the final question. >> thank you for coming. most of us voted for change and one of the big things we wanted was health care reform. i appreciate president obama, reaching across the aisle and trying to get people to work together to solve this problem, but the republicans just seen how the -- adamant about not cooperating, not helping, not wanting to have anything to do with it. i want to know where you stand as far as supporting reconciliation to getting this done? [applause] >> that is an important question and comment.
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an important way to end in terms of talking about where we are in the debate and how we move î@forward. i believe, president obama, he is a terrific president and he has just tried anabove and beyod to reach across the aisle. [cheers and applause] and i think that almost every single turn he has been rebuffed. and i think that givenzi out, ad given that he was elected for the kind of change that you articulated, and that i believe in as well, that sometimes that means especially for us as democrats, as people who want reform, then we have to kind of take the bull by the horns. we have to move forward. [applause]
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and if on the senate side -- and i am not in the senate, but if on the senate side part of the process is reconciliation in order to move forward, i think i need to happen. if it means on the house side that democrats -- [cheers and applause] i think that if it means on the house side, as democrats, -- we were elected for a reason as well. we have the majority in the house of representatives and in the senate for a reason. si think is important for us to embrace our leadership, to embrace our majority, and to move forward for the american people. [applause] zñriñi>>.
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>> thank you.
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and lastly, i know that there are those of you who question officials. you do not have to trust me. go yourself, take the binder like i have taken, and read the bill. go look at it section by section, go read independent analyses. one thing i would urge you not to do, do notç just listen to talk radio and check them out television -- and chat 'em up television. [applause] >> one person offered a solution. -- not one person offered a
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solution. i was going to offer a solution, but i could not get to the microphone. my dad was a d.c. firm in. he was also a life master in the bridge, which requires an awful lot of dedication, common sense, forethought and strategic thinking. he was a democrat. i'm a registered independent. the fact is, a 1/7% to 80% of people in -- 70% to 80 percent of people in the u.s. like their current health care. the 47 million people that you alluded to that do not have health care, giving you a way to go to congress and get this thing through. part of that, as you might already know, our people that do not want health care. my hand was one of those. . my aunt -- my aunt was one of
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those. if you take the three entered million people in the u.s. and you factor in those people that do not have health care like debora over here, and you devise a program -- and the government loves to subsidize things -- and what you do is you make it mandatory that the private health care has to take people with pre-existing conditions, they have to do this. and the government will now substitute those folks and it is much cheaper. the dove -- the government does not get involved. >> that is exactly what the exchange is. >> just a minute. you can get this done in 10 pages. the problem is that people in york and other representatives say, i do not care what is. i am still voting for the plan. i do not care what my constituents do. and you wonder why we are upset. but we are upset because we do not think you listen. you deserve your position.
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you were listening to what everyone said. your loquacious, however, you deserve your position. i am trying to get you to come -- go back to congress and come up with something different. they're about to be plans out there rather than trying to force something on us. >> i'm going to give you four pages to read. the public health insurance plan is about four pages. >> i do not want to read that. >> thank you. >> i am reminded of the fable of the fisherman's wife where she wanted this and then she got that and then one of this and
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then got that until she went too far and the fish said, we are back to square one and this is what you will have. maybe it is time to just look at it -- to try simplifying it. if we have the majority and is in the best interest of the american people, then it is time to do what is in the best interest of the american people and let the chips fall where they may. >> i appreciate your communicating best. it has been a challenge in the last weeks and days. >> thank you so much. you have done a wonderful job. >> we appreciate you coming here. >> thank you. >> stick to our guns. you are doing a beautiful job. -- stick to your guns. >> i am in favor of the individual mandate if you're not
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covered by your employer. the problem is that roughly one- third of those without insurance are illegal immigrants and they are exempt from the individual mandate, but they are still one to show up at the emergency room and the hospital. they're still going to get their health care. they're just not going to end up paying for health insurance. i'm not sure that they are not being treated better than those under the mandate. i am not in favor of giving them affordability credits, but i do not know why they are exempt from the individual mandate to go out and buy the health insurance. they're just a freeloader on the system. >> it is a dilemma. covered or not, they are accessing the system.
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>> they're still going to get health care, but not required to get health insurance. >> the system at some level is going to continue to absorb people who for whatever reason may not be in an insurance plan now. the estimate is that it is actually about 3%. currently, ourr> system is absorbing far more than that. i think is really important for us to keep in mind that this is not an endpoint. ç >> [unintelligible]
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>> there is a provision that ñi [inaudible] >> why can't we do that without the public plan? why can we allow people to go across state lines and have affordability across state lines? >> we didkr not actually talk about that. some people have actually said, for example, that removing the antitrust exemptions would open it up to competition. but if you have essentially in every single state a monopoly or a duopoly of health insurance providers, nearly allowing them to have -- merely allowing them to have a monopoly or a duopoly across state lines is not going to bring down prices. you will have -- you need to have multiple insurance
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providers inside that insurance exchange in addition to the one public plan. you want to be able to drive costs down. greg one way you can do that is with health savings accounts. you can drive costs weighed down. >> [unintelligible] >> the private healthcare -- ok, the public health care is not in the summer bill. right? -- is not in the senate bill, right? now, if it is defeated, and i wish it would not be, in what way could a, wha co-op be succel if we have to subsidize it and it would be difficult to get the same amount of people we would get with a public plan? >> a couple of examples that we have to have survived over 30
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years and have taken about 30 years. [inaudible] >> can they operate across state lines? >> i think in washington there is one that provides some health care coverage for folks and idaho for a limited number of people to come into one place or the other. but i believe the providers are in one state and the persons that are being injured may be in a rural area. all i'm saying is that there is no data that cops can't operate on the massive scale that --
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that co-ops can operate on the massive scale that we would need to provide. ç>> [unintelligible] management of different groups together? >> we have not seen that. if you're going to start a co- op, you have to go around and find doctors. then we would have to underwrite the startup costs. if you imagine that happening in 50 states or a number of regions, it is very difficult for me to see how that really is the kind of choice that we need to provide a wide range of coverage. >> i am already frightened for the public auction. -- public plan. when you look at what you have to do to bring costs down, to
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provide for real competition, i believe the public plan is the way to do that. i feel really confident in the house of representatives that we are moving forward on the bill. the importance of getting a bill out with a public plan in it cannot be underscored because it gives us much more leverage. >> [unintelligible] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> the body of senator ted kennedy lies in state today at the john f. kennedy presidential
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library in boston. we will bring you live coverage on c-span2 and. -- and also a memorial service this evening with senator john kerry and senator john mccain among the numerous speakers. we will have that live for you on c-span. and then tomorrow morning at boston's basilica, senator kennedy's body will be flown to washington after a brief ceremony at the steps of the capitol, the body will continue to the girl at arlington national cemetery. live coverage tomorrow on c- span. >> tonight, american and the court reviews the veterans with post-traumatic stress and brain injury and if the v.a. can be ordered to speed up the claims process. watch oral argument saturday on c-span. >> coincide the supreme court to
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the public places and those were the scenes bases. hear directly from the justices as they provide their insight about the court and the building. the supreme court, home to zyó sundayn c-span. >> from this morning's "washington journal", a book discussion on the national security agency. host: when you say the story has not been told, what elements of the stories you think is important for the public to know? guest: the agency -- we are living in a time of national debate about where the public is
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focused on domestic eavesdropping. i think is important that the public know that this agency's activities go back a long time. there have been other successes and other failures which help to explain where the agency is today, how it does what it does, it's important and also the danger that it poses. host: people have certain ideas above what the agency does. what is their role as far as intelligence and security? guest: it is our nation's eavesdropping agency. they collect signals intelligence, intercept radio transmissions, e-mail, faxes, you name it. they try to decode the communications and day intercept. its second mission is to protect the communications of the u.s. government, computer
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networks and our communications systems. that is just as important as the intelligence gathering, which is what most people most peoplensa -- what most people know about nsa. >> ho@@ the military personnel deployed in the u.s. and overseas, it is by far the largest intelligence agency and some would argue, the most powerful intelligence agency. 60% of what goes into the is the top-secret code word, intelligence report read by the president of the united states every morning comes from the building we are looking at. where is this located? guest: it is located on a 300 acre campus -- the way that employees referred to it -- in
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maryland, half between washington and baltimore. host: the president of the large amount of information from this agency. it has listening posts as well. at the height of the cold war it had almost 100 listening posts deployed around two dozen countries. the number today is around probably a dozen. the nature of communications has changed. we don't need all the listening posts overseas because people communicate by e-mail and cellphone now. and the internet. radovan by high-frequency radio. it has consolidated a number of its listening posts to about a dozen. host: throughout the history, there aren't three team spirit first, the amount of information that the agency takes in on a day-to-day basis. second, how it is processed or how it's consumed. for the folks will have not read
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your book, or the importance of those two? guest: the agency, you have violated the two main challenges of the agency. the first is that it collects massive amounts of information. it collects the equivalent of the entire collection of the library of congress several times a day. it is a massive amount. it is beyond the capacity of any group of human beings to listen to every single message and the email and text message it collects. it depends on computers to screen through the vast amount of information looking for those few nuggets of intelligence. the problem is that the amount of communications out there, the number of teenagers text messaging, the number of people signing up for e-mail and internet service on a day-to-day basis increases exponentially every year, so it is becoming harder for nsa to stay on top of
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the amount of communications flowing through the airwaves. and at the same time finding a needle in a haystack. there's a joke over there that the amount of stuff going through the airwaves is increasing so fast that now you have to find a needle in a constantly multiplying series of haystacks. that is the challenge the agency faces. it is going to get worse before it gets better. >host: there are several thousand people working there. it is a people problem? >> it's a combination of people and technology problems. they have the largest collection of supercomputers on the planet probably. even -- it does not matter if they have 50,000 or 75,000 people in the complex of
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buildings, the fact is it is too much for human beings to handle. there's no other agency in the world as large as nsa in terms of its ability to collect and process the intelligence. it's the nature of the beast we are facing right now. people are talking more on their funds, sending more e-mail messages. nsa has defined a way to keep on top of that. host: our guest is talking about the national security agency. he is the author of "and untold history of the national security agency." she will take your calls this morning and he or e-mails. the numbers are on your screen. what do you currently do? guest: i'm writing my next book on intelligence issues, focusing on the bush administration, his
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eight years. >> what did you do previous people do you have experience at the national security agency? guest: i was a lowly russian translator for the u.s. air force 30 years ago. for the 25 years a subsequent, i was a financial investigator specializing in white-collar fraud and basically trying to put people like michael milken behind bars. host: as far as the information you spoke about anti with process, what has been a payoff as far as national security? guest: i think intelligence provided by the national security agency has been essential. all of its faults and failings aside, you have to conclude that without the intelligence provided by the agency, taken into conjunction with everything else collected by the 16 other agencies, i think we would have
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been in worse shape during the cold war and in the time after the cold war than we are today. host: our first call for you comes from walt and the democratic line in indiana. caller: thank you. it concerns me with the secretive government agencies and powers they have. maybe i am one of these conspirators. i believe the government does a lot of shady things. my question for your guest is with all the information the agency has, why aren't any of the agency's speaking to public radio or public television to confirm that mr. obama has eight czar that is a devout communist? why don't we see that government control is our biggest problem. they're breaking the constitution, breaking the laws of the land, we cannot secure
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our own borders and they're helping out car companies. host: do you get to those kind of comments bo? guest: all the time. the one comment i get the most is that this is an uncontrolled agency. to use a phrase that was coined in 1970's to describe the head of the u.s. intelligence which was the cia, people have described it as a rogue elephant. i don't think that is a fair characterization. i think there are problems, take for example what happened during the bush administration. i think that congress failed adequately to oversee the activities of not just the national security agency but the entire intelligence community as all. the way the white house ran the
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super secret activities of nsa and the rest of the community was apple aabhorrent and illegally question -- and legally questionable. we need to reassure the public and to put the rules of law back into the way the intelligence community is run. host: what types of changes? guest: what disturbs me most is the way the nsa's warrantless eavesdropping program was run was a lawyer by the name of john who wrote a series of legal opinions that said the president of the united states could order
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nsa to engage in domestic surveillance activities without having to go and get a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance court. that's been a lot of the land since 1978. the justification was the president's wartime powers tromped the constitution. any first-year law student will tell you that has no basis in fact or american case law for that matter. this was done in secret. he wrote to the opinions and did not share them with the attorney general. it was sent to vice-president dick cheney personally. i think if any other lawyers had reviewed these legal texts, they would say we have big problems with the legality of these programs, based on this man's justification. this can no longer be done. i think running the intelligence
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community in secret, without recourse to congress or the normal process that's been put in place, the checks and balances to make sure these sorts of, these acts, never happen again so we don't revisit this. host:cora on the republican line from virginia. caller: thank you for letting me be on c-span. i have one question. why do we tell so much security stuff on tv in front of the whole world? host: such as bo? caller: all the things you have been talking about this morning. today it seems like we tell too much stuff to the world. host: do we tell too much?
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guest: probably. i have traveled extensively. by far, the u.s., the public knowledge of intelligence issues is far superior to any other country, including the democracy is of -- the democracies of western europe. that is a reflection of what has transpired since watergate in the early 1970's where the public's trust in government has dissipated and deteriorated over time and especially the intelligence abuses that occurred during the cold war. the public wanted to know, congress insisted the public had the right to know. frankly, the public media in this country have spent a fair amount of time talking about the activities of our intelligence
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agencies, both good and bad. i think it is healthy that in a democracy we can talk about intelligence issues. we lived in england four years. there is a lovely thing called the official secrets act, which means that, if i was to have this conversation with you and england, i could be facing multiple criminal charges for violating the official secrets act. we are both democracies, but we have different standards in terms of what we can and should be discussing. i think it is healthy and the u.s. to talk about intelligence. i'm reluctant to talk about sources and methods. meaning how is it that we intercept calls and how is it we process them. but it is essential that the public know, we are putting $10 billion a year international security. are we getting our money's worth?
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it's a dollars and cents issue. host: on the independent line, fred, from new orleans. >caller: good morning. it boggles the mind to look at what we are looking at right now, to see how many intelligence agencies we have and there's only one answer, from where i am looking at about 20 or more intelligence agencies. there's only one reason. you have a police state. we are a police state. we have accountability to these agencies, what they have done in operations we cannot get into. they have admitted crimes that have been exposed and no one is ever held accountable. it goes on and on. we can go to the wiretapping and all the way to murder. and torture.
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we are a police state. it's all there. my question is what will happen now with the advent of internet to the infrastructure? we are looking at an operation setting behalf to secure us and that the internet and the web are two different things and the military and intelligence work off of two systems. they could strip us of all of our free speech over the internet. it will be like cable tv. there will only be a few thousand approved government decides to go into. the national security agency in this country will be a full- blown police state at this time in this country. host: we will leave it there. guest: guest: the views of the car are incredibly wide spread. fear is pervasive in this country and all you have to do is turn on the news at night or
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pick up a daily newspaper and there is a revelation about waterboarding and, you know, something else that has occurred in the recent past. i think the cure for what ails us, for the all pervasive sense of fear or uncertainty about whether or intelligence and security agencies, the fbi, are they doing their job and not spying on us? i mean, are they not opening are male and reading are e-mails? we have to get back to what we described in the 1980's and 1990's as glasnost, openness, some sense of transparency. let's hold some public hearings and air out these issues. another is supreme reluctance on the part of the obama administration to look back on what had transpired during the
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eight years of the bush administration, but i honestly think that at some point, we're going to have to do it. whether it takes the form of congressional hearings or a truth commission, there's so much pent-up concern. . who formerly served in the intelligence industry. they are very concerned. some of the behavior of the chiefs of the intelligence community suggest to them that these people are covering up. that they are not happy with these attitudes that basie and they are concerned that the intelligence agencies are running from things that they running from things that they may have done in the name of national security during the bush administration. let's give the public some sense of what was done and why it was done, what with a cheap, and if mistakes were made and people spied upon. let's find out now.
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it will get worse as time goes by, but then the public will come back when we learn new revelations and we will demand even harsher responses. i think it's incumbent on the obama administration to be proactive and tell us what happened. host: what does it mean to you that eric holder is interested in looking into some of the activities of the cia? guest: it does not matter whether you are democrat or republican, we are all americans. tortured is basically unacceptable in any shape or form. i have read legal opinions written by the justice department, justifying them. i find it obnoxious in the sense that the legal niceties were thrown to the wind and justification was found and interpreted.
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basically, i think that an investigation is necessary because we are a nation of law. prior to 2001, the previous administrations would never have allowed the use of torture or enhanced interrogation. most of the people i spoke with you it was counterproductive at the least. i think that, if laws were broken, people should be held accountable. that is the way this nation is run. host: miriam on our democrats line from rochester, new york. >caller: it is pretty clear where your guest stance. i wonder what he would think about the legality of the way that people who are against our country have handled our people
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when they catch them. i also have another question. apparently, the president of the united states is giving inflow -- is given in full every morning -- given information every morning on what the intelligence community has discovered in the previous day or whatever. i wondered if there is any kind of collective process as to what is presented to him, because it must be a lot. second, it would seem to me that the orientation of the leader of the country, whether it be obama or bush or clinton or whoever, is going to influence what he decides to pay attention to board feels is important. guest: that's true. i should make -- i should
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digress to explain that the president every morning gets a blue folder stamped with multiple top-secret classifications. he's the only person other than maybe the vice-president to read it. it is the best intelligence produced by the community on that particular day. it is extremely sensitive. only a few copies have ever been declassified. it's called the president's daily brief. or pdf. each president is different about how -- how much value and importance they place on intelligence. lyndon johnson was a voracious reader of intelligence. he could not get enough. the cia pact is daily brief with all sorts of juicy and titillating information, because they knew the president likes
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it. jimmy carter liked precise, clean, short bredes. john kennedy liked oral briefings. he did not to read a lot of paper. george w. bush became -- it's not clear how much importance he placed on intelligence, but the caller's message that the president makes policy decisions based on what he reads every morning ohrid shapes his view on the world and affects the u.s. is absolutely true. that's what intelligence is so important in how the nation is governed and run. host: erode in the book that president george bush --
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guest: absolutely true. host: do all presidents find themselves in that position as far as the tides and quality of information? guest: eisenhower came into office fully versed in intelligence matters. he was an army general, former army chief of staff. he knew about the ultra secret. he knew about breaking shermans codes. inouye about the importance of intelligence and codebreaking. then you have other presidents like jimmy carter, a former governor of georgia, and george w. bush, former governor of texas, they had no background or understanding of intelligence community stuff, so the intelligence community tries to educate them as quickly as possible about here is what you are going to be getting every
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morning. tell us if you like it. tell us if it meets your needs and requirements. i have to understand that as a nation, more and more of our presidents in the future will probably know nothing about intelligence upon entering the oval office. i think the intelligence community has to get much better in terms of bringing these people up to speed as quickly as possible. and explaining what they do and how they do it. but when the days ago when the presidency used to spend decades in congress before coming into office, being briefed on intelligence matters, that may be a thing of the past. host: what about colin powell, he built a lot of the speech he would give to the u.n. on information he gained from the nsa, maybe he would have questioned the quality of it.
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guest: he did. he went before the u.n. security council in march 2003 and gave a presentation basically alleging that iraq had a big weapons of mass destruction program. there were three intercept tapes that he said showed iraq was trying to hide its weapons of mass destruction. it turns out the entire presentation was wrong from beginning to end. there was no factual basis for any of the allegations made in his presentation. you could make the argument that, having been an army general, a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, former national security adviser, and then secretary of state, that he should have known better, he should have been able to spot that. as he was preparing the
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presentation, that the intelligence did not scored a lot of the we did not support a lot of the allegations that had been publicly aired. president bush went to ohio and gave the "axis of evil" speech, alleging iraq had weapons of mass destruction and at the united states. i don't think the intelligence that was available at the times reported that allegation. there were indications and some data analysis, but, by and large, colin powell should have known better. >> bryon on the republican line. caller: a man called a minute ago to save our country was a police state. does that bother you as much as it did me? second, last night on the glenn backeeck show, there were
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talking about whether obama would want a mili-- that he woud want to establish an intelligence agency as well funded at the military is. one gentleman was very concerned. could you elaborate on that as well? guest: i apologize for not having watched that show last night. i'm not sure exactly what was proposed. late senator pat moynihan proposed many years ago scrapping the intelligence community in its current form and bringing all the agencies into one house. basically creating one agency rather than the 16 major agencies and dozens of smaller intelligence organizations we have right now. as you can imagine, the senior officials of the 16 intelligence
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agencies we currently have resisted mightily this suggestion that to stop the warfare that was endemic in the u.s. intelligence community, that we should basically disband those agencies and create just one. it had to be controlled by a civilian, of course. there is an undercurrent of concern on both sides of the aisle in congress that more and more you find general's controlling civilian intelligence agencies. general michael hayden was the director of the cia for much of his tenure, for much of the bush administration. it is getting harder and harder to find talented and qualified civilians. leon panetta has no prior intelligence experience before being named director of the cia. but it is getting harder to
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find intelligence veterans wanting the job of being a director of national intelligence, which may be that is what beck was talking about last night. host: why don't they want the job? guest: as it is a political nightmare. you spend all day going from one meeting to another, talking intelligence politics rather than actually doing the job that intelligence professionals love to do, which is analyzing and reporting intelligence. most intelligent people i have met, that's all they want to do. they don't want to have to argue with the justice obama's about whether prosecuting or investigating former cia agents in the right thing to do. they just want to do their job. it's getting harder and harder at the top levels in the intelligence community to do that.
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host: you have written about several leaders. how important is leadership to bringing about the result of trying to gather and better analyze information? with leaders stand out in your mind? how does that influence the agency? guest: we have had -- national security agency has had good directors. fair to middling as well. and the directors that fell below the acceptable definition of a good leader as well. good leadership is essential at the top. you talk to people like bobby, director of nsa in the 1970's and became the deputy director of the cia. you quickly come to the realization that the top man in these organizations -- organizations are so massive that basically, you spend your
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entire working day working on policy may be seven days a week. you have to have a good executive who d4 our intelligence community is now 700,000 strong. it is impossible for one man to adequately lead it, given the fact that there are 16 agencies. bachtell sorry for the director of national intelligence. -- i feel sorry for the director of national intelligence. he spends his day trying to maintain integrity within the ever-growing intelligence community. host: one of the things you wrote about is morale. guest: you read in today's "new york times" or other papers that the morale is now threatened by the investigations, according to some. ing promised or are imminent.
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i'm not sure how much credence to put to the question of morale. how can you sticca a thermometer into an intelligence agency that is 60,000 people strong and make a judgment of what is ugly or good? there will be some people thinking things are finance some people will think things have gone to hell and a handbaskin a. some people at the senior levels of intelligence community of or about congressional investigations and justice department investigations and trials commissions, and maybe with good reason. the morale of the agencies, these guys are professionals. they're not getting paid a lot of money. they're not in it for the money. they do it because they think it is important. all they want to do is do their
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job. i feel like we should let them do their job as long as they stick by the guidelines. host: we're talking with matthew aid. he's written "the secret sentry ." tampa, fla. on the independent line with jerry. caller: that has been public knowledge since 1978. if i would greet my arab brothers in arabic, i know they would pick that up. how long would it take those agencies to find my conversations? guest: greetings to you as well. first of all, echelon is a code name that has been bandied about since at least 1998.
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echelon was an and as a computer system put into place in the 1970's to sort through intercepted communications to try to find a conversation that might have some intelligence value. that is basically all it was. it was not a global intercept network, which is how it has become to be described since the late 1990's. the caller's question about how long it would take nsa to pick up your call? an essay, for those of you who use the internet extensively and pride themselves on their expertise with google, you'll know you can plug into google and alert if you want any articles appearing on for example c-span.
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you'll probably pick up hundreds upon thousands of articles every day. but you can't plug in and get an alert where the computer will tell you every day every article has ever appeared on the internet through a group message or a blog that mentions c-span. the nsa does exactly the same thing. except it's a google alert system is much larger because it looks at maybe tens of thousands of names and phrases and names of countries. i always joke with my friends that every time i send them a copy of an article from newspapers about terrorist attacks, it will probably be forwarded immediately to some analysts at nsa. i guarantee that is one of the search terms nsa uses to determine whether some analysts ought to take a look at your communication. can you imagine how many "the
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new york times" article have buried in them somewhere the phrase "terrorist attack"? you have to feel sorry for the men and women at fort meade having to plow through all of this stuff. most of it is in name and thomas. they're looking for that one phone call in arabic maybe that the caller referred to that says a terrorist attack is starting tomorrow. that kind of thing is difficult and backbreaking. here's an example. the nsa intercepted two phone calls 48 hours before the 9/11 attacks. and as they did not get around to translating the intercept until after the 9/11 attacks. a two-day time span between intercept and translation is
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extraordinarily good, by nsa standards. the problem is that it came a day late. do we hang but analysts at the nsa for not translating it quickly enough or do applaud them for moving quickly on it? host: 10 the same be said about the attack on the uss cole tt maybe this information was not translated or paid attention to by the leadeh@@ pearl harbor is an example. you are familiar with the idea that we were breaking all of the japanese naval and diplomatic codes before the japanese attacked on december 7, 1941, and yet the warning signs appearing in the intercepts
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never managed to reach the people who needed it in a timely enough fashion with the kind of emphasis to say that a japanese attack is forthcoming. yes, my book is full of examples. intelligence was available credit to many different world crises, and yet, it was either ignored, or in many cases the cia said this is garbage. this is not our view of what is going to happen. we have paid for a lot of these mistakes. host: maryland, go ahead. caller: my question had to do with the nsa and the other agencies information. the instant i am referring to is
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vice president dick cheney, who goes on national tv and cracks about -- brags about torturing inmates and how important it was to secure the united states. when there it was recorded or not, the man is bragging about breaking the law. >> part of this morning's "washington journal." we will take it to an event with the head of the small business administration. >> this theme for the week, energizing the american economy. we have heard from the vice- president. we have heard from magic johnson. and we have heard from many of
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the leaders in our nation's capital. today we have a president who really gets it. he talks about how small businesses are born around the kitchen table. he calls small-business the heart of the american economy. overall, this administration is sending a clear message. minority-owned small businesses are playing a crucial role in getting this out of this recession and into recovery. at the sba, we believe in the power and the potential of minority-owned small businesses. we know that small businesses create over 70% of the jobs in this country. half of americans who work own
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or work for a small business. small businesses drive competition shoot they drive innovation. they drive 21st century jobs. the sba is working to make sure the minority-owned businesses can not only survive, but can grow even in these difficult times. we have three priorities to do that. first, implementing the recovery act. the second is reinvesting in our agency. the third is to be the strongest possible voice of small business across the administration. first, the recovery act. economic stimulus. all of you know what happened in october. in october, banks stopped lending. credit lines froze. small businesses were struggling to find the capital that they
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need. congress and this administration understood that the small business community needed some extra help. they included over $700 million for the sba in the recovery act. it has been six months. this has been a smalsmart investment. we have been able to get the money into the hands of small businesses. it is working. in march, because of the recovery act, we were able to implement two important changes in the sba's top loan programs. we've reduced or eliminated many of the fees in our 504 programs. we wanted you small businesses to keep more of that money and to be able to reinvested back into businesses. we were able to increase the
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federal backing on our 7a loans up to 90% so lenders would offer more sba loans. as a result, we have been able to get more than 1000 lenders who were not making loans after october that making sba loans. more than half of those have not participated in making sba loans since 2007. this means a bigger network. more banks and more points of access for all of you small businesses. as a result, our loan volume is up more than 50% from the weeks before the recovery act passed. this means that we have been able to put $9 billion into the hands of america's small
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businesses at this crucial time when they needed the most. i am proud to say that in the first six months of the recovery act, nearly 5500 of these sba loans went to minority-owned small businesses. do you know how much that is? $2.2 billion in the hands of minority-owned small businesses. [applause] this is the everyday work data sbat the sba. a study by the urban institute estimated that the sba loans are three times to five times more likely to go to a minority-owned business or a woman owned business than those that go to a
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conventional lender. the best part is that borrowers are reporting that the loans are helping create or maintain tens of thousands of jobs all across the country as you've heard this week, we're not stopping. we are renewing our commitment to federal contracting with small business. we are working across the federal government to ensure that small businesses can deliver at least 23% of all the federal contracts. we have special callsgoals and emphasis on minority-owned small businesses, women owned small businesses, and veteran owned small businesses. we see this as a win-win. minority-owned businesses get increased volume and sales.
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they can hire more people. they get a lift to be competitive and take their products across the globe. federal agencies whin also. they get access to the most innovative and nimble and responsive companies. often in a small business, they have direct access to the ceo and the owner. so far, more than 20% of stimulus contracts have gone to small business. we're hitting many of our targets. nearly half are going to minority-owned small businesses. if you count the big and small minority-owned small businesses, it is over 1 billion. we announced a government righwe
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outreach effort to build on this success over the next 90 days. we will work with are for treatment partners -- we will work with our procurement partners. we're doing matchmaking events. over two hundred events. we will help put contracts in the hands of people like you. i used to say it is like speedskating. i think is really a longer-term relationship. now i call it e-harmony. in the announcement, the president himself said that providing the maximum practical opportunity -- he called it essential. the vice president said, "the administration is committed to ensuring that small and minority-owned businesses are part of the economic recovery
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every step of the way." billions more in contracts are coming down the pipeline. this push could not come at a better time. today i want to encourage you to do a few things. i want to make sure that you actively market more products and/or services to these agencies just like you would to any customer. i am pleased to hear that many of you have been actively doing just that. good. with both lending, contracting and the recovery act, we're doing a number of things. you're giving taxpayers a big bang for the buck. we're putting the brakes on this recession. and we're doing the side-by-side with minority-owned small businesses. [applause]
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we are also doing some other things. we are investing in and reinvigorating our agency. we are investing in our strong network of partners to better serve all of you, all of the minority-owned small businesses. sba has great bone structure. we have more than two thousand employees. 68 district officers all across the country. you can add to that more than 1200 on call employees who come to an area when it is hit by a natural disaster. in addition, we have resources partners. we have 900 small-business development centers. many of you have probably used the services. and 100 women owned business centers.
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all of these 14,000 councilors are there. one of them told me they think we have a counselor within one hour of most small businesses in this country. in fact, their businesses up more than 5%. within this vast bone structure, we have some very important people for helping with government contracting. we have dozens of procurements center representatives and they are stationed at federal facilities all across the country. i encourage you to get to know them, to reach out to them, to contact them. they're there to be your partners.
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we're also ensuring that all of our people and all of our federal partners stand ready to meet your needs, the needs of minority-owned small businesses. to recap, we are driving the recovery. we are reinvigorating the sba bone structure. finally, the sba is serving as the strongest possible voice for small business. in this administration, small business has a seat at the table. we are taking action to show the importance value of small business. we are working with hard-hit industries like the automotive suppliers in michigan. i was there when we launched a cluster of these suppliers in the robotics industry, linking them to the department of defense, which has a great interest and robotic technology.
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we are working with the department of energy to build on the grounds will start up firms that are creating green jobs. we're supporting efforts by our partners and working with the the palm printhe department of d others in events like this across the country. we will build on this and we will create an environment where all kinds of small business can flourish. from main street small businesses to some of the high- growth, high impact businesses like all of you in this room. that means we will also tackle some tough issues. one of them his health care. healthcare is the number one concern of small business. the number one concern is that small businesses need access to affordable health care.
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13 million of the uninsured come from small businesses that have less than 100 people. all of you out there who are providing health care, you pay up to 18% more for the same coverage as large businesses pay. we know small businesses are like families. you want to provide the coverage. it is a huge burden, especially in this economy. the situation now is untenable. there are options on the table. they're working their way through congress. but we do know this. we must have reform that provides access to affordable health care for small businesses. [applause] on this issue and on others, you
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can be sure that the sba is a strong voice here in washington for the interests of small businesses. it will become stronger every day and more informed every day because of the partnership with business leaders like yourself. thank you. my commitment to you is that we will accomplish our priorities that i have described, working side by side with americans. 4 million minority-owned small businesses. thank you. thank you very much for being here. [applause] now i am pleased to give some awards. i am going to give the awards for the 8a graduate of the year,
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the sba administrators leadership award, and the national minority business person of the year. before that, i want to do a quick recognition. is judith here? i hope so. if you are, stand up. i just want to say that the legacy award for lifetime achievement is given out every year. it goes to someone who has played a strong will in the process of the minority business community over 25 years or more. we're very proud that they chose one of our own at the sba. as i understand it, she will be recognized more formally tonight at the gala. i wanted to make sure that we also recognize her today.
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congratulations to our illinois district director, judith. [applause] our first award is the national 8a graduate of the year. it is given to a firm that represents the true spirit of the 8a program. the award is highly competitive. the criteria are tough. they must make the most of the training and the mentoring opportunities in 8a. 8a is a business development program. they must show how they have grown to be an independent force in the marketplace. they must give back to their community. our winner has done all that and much more. she was born and raised in buffalo , in buffa -- she was
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born and raised in buffalo, new york. she worked for her father's plumbing company. after that, he told her she should do her own thing. she started slr contract team. with a commitment to quality, customer service, and innovation, slr began to double sales each year and expanded to two more locations. you know how hard that is to double your sales. the business actively participated in both of our 8a programs. today, our winner also serves on a number of local nonprofit boards. she reaches out as a motivational speaker in the community. please help me congratulate the ceo of slr contracting and services, sundra l. wright.
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[applause] ♪ [applause] >> this year we have two administrators leadership awards. these awards are given to
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officials who have served as true ambassadors to our diverse small business community in federal government. the first winner worked for many years in contracting and the department of justice and treasury, and now he serves as the associate administrator in the office of small business utilization at the department of homeland security. he helps small businesses who want to contract, and he does it very well. in his most recent scorecard, dhs hit all but one of the schools. furthermore, if it agency says that they're having difficulty reaching one of their contracting goals, we refer them to him as a model of our very best practices treaty served as the vice chair of the interagency council that includes all of our federal
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government, small business, small and disadvantaged business utilization offices, and the sba has already recognized him with two other major awards. when he speaks about federal small business procurement, people listen. please tell me recognize kevin. [applause] [applause]
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>> the second winner of this award works for many years in the heartland regional offices of the general services administration. she has a strong track record as a champion for our 8a and hud zone programs. in addition, she consistently speaks out about the benefits of working with minority-owned small businesses, women owned, and veteran known to small businesses. in january, she was selected as the acting associate administrator for gsa's office of small business utilization. we know that she has helped build a foundation for successful contrasting at gsa. if you saw our scorecard last week, you saw the results of her work. gsa was the only federal agency
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to meet all five of its contracting goals. small business, small disadvantaged businesses, and service disabled veterans. she continues to set the bar. please help me recognize mary parks. [applause] [applause] >> finally, i am pleased to present our national minority-
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owned small businesses person of the year award. first things first. like to recognize that 10 regional minority-owned small businesses people of the year. it is a very competitive process to become a regional winner. these dynamic individuals already own and operate 8a firms that have begun to show signs of growth, sales, and job creation. they have to be in business for at least three years, show a good track record of performance, and they need to show that they are active in the community. its 10 businesses will be recognized again this evening. if the regional winners could please stand so we can give you a big round of applause. [applause] >> and now the final award.
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this is a surprise, i think. this year's national winner is a company that was established in 2002. these two professional engineers came together to build a company based on high quality service for every client. they offer a wide range of services, from geotechnical consulting t mccanno a and electrical services -- to major renovations. they said no job was too big or too small. they have projects ranging from $3,000 to $6 million. they quickly grew to serve both public and private sector in both north carolina and south carolina. but perhaps most importantly, they know that their people are their biggest asset.
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it is not just their staff, but it is also the many small businesses that they have begun to mentor and help grow and subcontract with. i am very pleased to honor the 2009 national minority-owned small businesse people of the year, cyryus and lawrence. [applause] ♪
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[applause] >> thank you. thank you for being here. thank you for all that you do, and for growing our business is, and creating the jobs. thank you very much. now i will turn it back to david. [applause] >> thank you for attending. can we give administrator mills and joe jordan a round of applause? [applause] and also one for our sba award winners. they have done a wonderful job. >> the event with the small
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business administration wraps up. earlier today, a discussion of taking advantage of the economic stimulus package. talking about that is the special white house advisor responsible for the implementing of the spending. this runs about half an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your national director, david henson. [applause] >> good morning. how was breakfast? very good. we're at a two. thank you for coming to the 27th annual conference. i hope over the last day that everyone was able to meet somebody new, shared business ideas, and hopefully get some good input on how you will grow your business. reaching economic parity -- to
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reach economic parity, we need to grow minority businesses larger and faster. to do this, we must think of globally, we must develop strategic alliances, and we must think about mergers and acquisitions. today's opening session from the white house to main street will focus on the administration's commitment in the american recovery and investment act. there are over $60 billion of federal contracts that are still available under the act. sixty billion dollars. there's a tremendous opportunity. companies need to be able to take advantage of these opportunities. like magic johnson said yesterday, be read the so you do not have to get ready when the economy turns around. i would like to introduce the next speaker, a special adviser to the president, an assistant
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to the vice president. he supports the vice president in his leadership on the recovery act, implementation, and coordinated recovery act efforts he leaves the white house efforts to make sure the recovery act is implemented quickly and effectively through interagency coordination. this topic is something i'm sure everyone in this room will be interested in. ladies and gentlemen, mr. ed deseve. [applause] >> good morning. i'm delighted to be here this morning. one of my favorite hotels in washington, d.c. to show you how old i am, the first time i was here, it was when jimmy carter was talking about whipping inflation now. it was a long time ago. i learned much about the power of wall street at that time.
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i was sitting next to my boss, and there were powerful people from all over america. mayors and governors and congressmen and senators. there was one fellow. he was kind of balding and a little bit stooped over. about halfway through, someone came by and gave him a note. he scribbled something on the note and handed out free at the end of the session, i said to my boss, who was the man who got the note. he said, that is bill horowitz. he had just bought $1.2 billion worth of new york city notes with one stroke of a pen. that was my introduction to the idea that commerce, that finance is a powerful tool for all of us. i have been a small businessman at least three times. i have learned a lot of lessons
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about venture-capital. home in my garage are spaces for the three very high class porsches that i lost learning about venture capital. [laughter] i'm not sure those spaces will ever fill up. i have some old stock certificates that i would be able to sell you a and some companies. i have been successful three times. the first company i found it was a company called public financial management inc. pitt is the -- it is no longer a small business. that's the good news. the bad news is that i do not own any of it anymore. it was one of those mergers and acquisition deals. they showed me the money and i said thank you very much. it's an exciting thing to
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develop and grow a company. what we know about developing and growing companies is they are the strong ones. they're the ones that will do what it takes to make things work. it is much to the advantage of the federal government in the things that we do to have the energy of not just a small businesses, but those who are headed by women, minorities, and veterans. people who really want to be able to show that they can take the things that they have learned, take the life lessons that they have learned, and turn them into success on the job for the client. that is what we care about. the recovery act itself -- i will not bore you because i'm sure you have all gone to conferences with people giving you slides and luxury new about the nature of the recovery act. the recovery act is $787
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billion. it breaks down into three pieces. you want to take a look at some of those tax provisions. there are different kind of tax provisions for businesses that may be helpful to you. i'm not an expert in this kind of provisions. i encourage you to read about them. talk to your accountant. talk to your tax advisor and see if they're helpful to you. it is $289 billion account of $787 billion. the balance, $499 billion goes to individuals and the states in the form of what we used to call transfer payments. money to extend cobra benefits.
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to rescue from the great recession. i have a slide that i sometimes use that shows previous recessions. and it shows this one to there's this blue line. it plummets. almost 6% loss in jobs. we know the job generators are small businesses, minority businesses, the people in this room. how do we engage them in the conversation? luckily, president obama, vice president biden, they're committed not just one time, not just two times, but committed to going out 200 times over the next 60 days. we have already started the process. it used to be 90 days.
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the clock is still kicking. we will go all over the country. i will go to some of them. this is only my second. i will go to some of them. other members of the cabinet will go to others. the vice-president will go to some of them. he went to one the other night. the message we want to carry, not just to the federal contracting community -- and david was correct. we have about $70 billion in federal contracts. the department of interior has 3400 projects throughout america. these are the kind of progress in rehabilitating parts of our national forests and parts of our parks system. it is spread all over the nation. and it is easily accessible locally. you can see


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